The TExES Educational Diagnostician Exam is a certification examination that is designed to determine if an individual has the skills and knowledge necessary to be an educational diagnostician. An educational diagnostician is an individual that identifies the special needs of students with disabilities and works to fulfill those needs by using special instruction, assessment, and other techniques. This exam assesses an individual’s knowledge of the methods to identify students with disabilities, methods to identify the severity of the disability and the needs of the student, methods to help the student learn in spite of his or her disability, and the professional roles, responsibilities, and concerns associated with being an educational diagnostician. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that are related to the following areas:
- Students with Disabilities (22%)
- Assessment and Evaluation (33%)
- Curriculum and Instruction (22%)
- Foundations and Professional Roles and Responsibilities (22%)
The exam-taker will have five hours to complete the exam and exam will be scored on a scale of 100 – 300 with 240 set as the minimum score considered as passing for the exam. The Educational Diagnostician Exam is administered in a computer-based format and the registration fee for the exam is $131. However, there are usually other exams and fees in addition to this exam that are required in order to become certified as an entry-level educational diagnostician within the state of Texas.
Sample Study Notes
1. Discuss the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Individualized Educational Program (IEP).
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that declares that children with physical, psychological and learning disabilities are entitled to a “free and appropriate public education.” Every state and territory is required to provide educational opportunities for children between the ages of 3 and 21 no matter how severe their learning problems or physical challenges.
The Individualized Educational Program (IEP) is a comprehensive written document mandated by IDEA. Schools are required to conduct an evaluation that includes various assessment tests to determine the child’s strengths and weaknesses; the results of interviews with the child, parents, teachers and other significant adults; and notes from conferences with professionals familiar with the child. IEP provides a review of his medical history and current educational performance and comments from direct observation in various settings. It describes annual goals and sets short-term objectives. The IEP spells out the type and length of special services required, and establishes methods for evaluating progress. From the age of 16, it must also include a plan to move the child out of school into the real world.
2. List some facts about learning disabilities.
Learning disabilities are complex. Scientists think the causes may be as complicated as the problems themselves, and may be different for each person. They may be caused by: heredity factors, teratogenic elements (abnormalities which develop in the womb because the mother is addicted to alcohol or cocaine, or has ingested lead), medical reasons (e.g., premature birth, diabetes, meningitis) and societal influences (e.g., malnutrition, poor prenatal healthcare). Since the causes can’t yet be pinpointed, it is more important to focus on determining the child’s problems and to develop educational tools to help him function in the world.
People with learning disabilities frequently are very intelligent and have strong leadership skills. They often show amazing abilities in creative areas, like art and music, or are athletically gifted. These folks just process information differently than others do. People with learning disabilities are never “cured.” They learn ways to cope with and work around whatever problems they have, and many function very well in later life (especially if they receive help in the early years).
3. Discuss disabilities that are not considered learning disabilities.
Students who suffer from mental retardation, autism, deafness, blindness and behavior problems should not be considered learning disabled. These are separate and distinct issues, and should be dealt with accordingly. Attention disorders and learning disabilities, although frequently seen in the same student, are not the same problem and should not be treated as such. Student immigrants who are learning English should not be considered learning disabled until they are given ample time to learn the language and acquire the necessary social and communication skills. Once language proficiency is acquired, if symptoms persist, an accurate diagnosis can be made. Characteristics of a learning disability that may be present in students who are not learning disabled:
- Poor spelling
- Avoidance of reading and writing tasks
- Handwriting nearly illegible
- Trouble remembering facts, dates and assignments; difficulty summarizing data
- Works slowly, misreads and misinterprets information and has a hard time understanding and retaining abstract concepts
- Either pays too little or too much attention to details
- Difficulty adjusting to new people, new situations and new settings
4. Describe behavior a teacher may observe from a student with a learning disability and two possible responses.
Since teachers have regular contact with students and can usually be objective, they are in a unique position to observe students’ behavior. Awkward interactions with peers, difficulty with normal classroom requirements, and frustrated attempts to master tasks are signs of potential problems. These additional signs are not diagnostic tools, and should be weighed against the student’s age and considered as hints rather than markers. They include:
- Trouble understanding and remembering newly learned data
- Difficulty with getting and staying organized, following clearly defined directions, remembering and honoring deadlines
- Problems using basic reading, writing, spelling and math skills
- Inappropriate comments; difficulty interacting with peers and teachers
- Problems expressing thoughts; inability to use proper grammar in speaking and writing
- Once a learning disabled student is identified, there are two ways to respond. In a collaborative consultation, the general education teacher works with a special education teacher to plan any physical accommodations, develop lessons and activities, and devise instructional tools. In a co-teaching situation, the teachers make the same decisions and share instructional responsibilities in the same classroom.
5. Explain the Response-To-Intervention (RTI) approach to teaching students with learning disabilities.
Many educators believe it is in the best interest of students with learning disabilities to remain in a general education classroom. Proponents believe that as long as the necessary instructional tools are provided and progress is monitored, this scenario addresses the special needs of the students and helps them succeed without being placed in a special education environment.
Using the response-to-intervention (RTI) approach, a student receives the special education services he needs in a general classroom setting. If he learns and shows progress, he stays in the general education classroom. If he doesn’t thrive and fails to achieve planned mandated milestones, a request for special education services is initiated. Both provide the appropriate environment for the student to succeed.
The RTI Problem Solving Approach collects, reports, and analyzes data. A plan is developed, implemented, observed and evaluated. Modifications are made when indicated. In the RTI Standard Protocol Approach, teachers identify struggling students who receive help for a specific time period; progress is monitored. Students who don’t show progress are referred for special education testing and placement.
6. Define Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder – ADHD.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – ADHD – is a behavior problem that affects all areas of life: home, school, and social relationships. While some children with ADHD also have other learning disabilities, ADHD is not classified as a learning disability. Scientists are making a case for ADHD to be included because it directly impacts functions needed to learn.
The main characteristics of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. At times everyone can be absent-minded, fidgety or impulsive, so why are some children diagnosed with ADHD while similar behavior in others is considered normal? The difference is the degree of the behavior: when, where, how much, and how often. For people with ADHD, these behavior patterns are the rule not the exception.
ADHD is a complex behavior disorder, and so symptoms vary. Some individuals are hyperactive; some under-active. Some children may be unable to pay attention for more than a minute or two but have few problems with impulsive behavior. Some children may only have minor problems with paying attention but are unable to curb impulsive actions. Some may have problems in all three areas.
7. Define learning style and discuss the major ones.
Learning styles are different ways or approaches to learn. Teachers should be aware of the various ways adolescents learn, so that they can develop multi-faceted lesson plans that capitalize on the students’ strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. This is especially true when teaching a class that includes students with various learning disabilities.
Some people learn almost exclusively using one method, while others use one or two or a combination of all three. However, those who use a combination usually have a predominate or preferred style. The learning styles are expressed as follows:
- VISUAL LEARNERS tend to think in pictures, so diagrams, graphic illustrations, videos and handouts help them. They take detailed notes for later reference.
- AUDITORY LEARNERS learn through lectures, discussions, talking things out, and listening to others. They may not understand written information until they hear it read aloud.
- TACTILE/KINESTHETIC LEARNERS learn by moving, doing, touching. They need hands-on activities. They may become distracted if made to sit still for long periods of time.
8. Define multiple intelligences.
The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, a Harvard professor of education. He believed that everyone learns according to one of eight intelligences, rather than just in the traditional linguistic and logical manner, which is how most schools are structured to teach. Since not all students learn this way, some children are labeled “slow,” “underachievers,” or “learning disabled” because they are not allowed and/or encouraged to learn by using their natural talents and abilities. If a teacher learns to recognize the eight intelligences as defined by Dr. Gardner, he can develop lesson plans that reach every one of his students, including the learning disabled. Adopting and utilizing the theory of multiple intelligences offers a wide variety of teaching tools to enhance lectures and create activities that spur the imagination and expand learning opportunities for all students. The Eight Intelligences are:
- VERBAL-LINGUISTIC: words and language
- LOGICAL-MATHEMATICAL: numbers and mathematical reasoning
- SPATIAL: pictures and three-dimensional visualization
- BODILY KINESTHETIC: body movement and coordination
- MUSICAL: musical tones and harmonies
- NATURALIST: nature, ecology, and the environment
- INTERPERSONAL: people and relationships
- INTRAPERSONAL: introspection and self-awareness
9. Discuss content standards and performance standards as they relate to student assessment.
Content standards define the specific areas of knowledge every student needs to learn. These areas are usually the traditional subjects of English (or language arts), math, science, social studies, music, art and drama; some also include general concepts and interdisciplinary studies. Some reflect one grade level and specific academic content, while others combine grade levels and integrate content across academic disciplines. Standards shouldn’t be so broad that they can’t be used as instructional guidelines or accurate assessments.
The Goals 2000: Educate America Act says “performance standards means concrete examples and explicit definitions of what students have to know and be able to do to demonstrate that such students are proficient in the skills and knowledge framed by content standards.” Performance standards must also be appropriate for the age, feasible to administer, and useful for evaluating progress. According to this definition, content and performance should be evaluated together in order to obtain a clear picture of the student’s progress.
10. Define articulation matrix and Bloom’s taxonomy and explain their relationship.
An articulation matrix is the set of relationships between activities and outcomes. It is a defined set of goals and the methods used to reach those goals. For example, in a graduation matrix, completing the required courses is the outcome and the lectures, homework assignments, projects, papers, tests and evaluations are the activities. Bloom’s taxonomy, which is a hierarchical classification system, is an articulation matrix that outlines six levels of cognitive learning. At each step students reach a predictable level of mastery.
- KNOWLEDGE LEVEL: ability to define terms.
- COMPREHENSION LEVEL: finish problems and explain answers.
- APPLICATION LEVEL: recognize problems and use new methods to solve them.
- ANALYSIS LEVEL: ability to explain why the process works.
- SYNTHESIS LEVEL: can use the process or part of it in new ways.
- EVALUATION LEVEL: create different ways to solve problems and use designated criteria; select the best method to obtain the correct solution.